What Stories does the Devil Tell?
Gentle strumming fills the street with a soulful vibration. A deep reverb resonates from barren brick to feted wood, caught by the echo of a lone guitar, its master’s weathered fingers swaying in time with a contemplative melody. His head is lowered. A patched cap obscures his countenance, lost as he is in the meditative trance that is his artistry. His thumb drifts from the top string to the middle where it holds firm, coaxing out an acoustic chorus. In this narrow alley – lit only by wire lamps of halogen bulbs, he plays to the quiet of a blackened, starless sky, still and silent shadows a lame audience.
His voice is gravel. A rasp that catches the air in its presence. Though harsh, the rumbling bass soothes with every word. It coos and calms. He speaks without lifting his eyes. The melody gives way to a steady undercurrent of ambient strums, idle notes that play beneath his invitation.
“Going to stand there all night?”
He speaks to you. In the stilted silence of this middle-of-nowhere town there can be no mistakes, no one dares leave the safety of shelter but you. In the early hours of the morning you’ve forgotten if the day is ending or another begins. Either way, he waits.
“Come now.” He speaks and gestures to a dirt patch where his wool poncho waits as if expecting you. Vapor drifts from his mouth at every word, yet the chill leaves your senses at his presence. "I’ll play you a melody, all your own.”
Your footfalls punctuate the rhythm of his music. Only once you sit does he lift his chin. Yellow eyes peer from beneath messy bangs set upon a dark complexion, rough stubble covering worn cheeks. That gaze meets your own in a moment of awe. He offers a smile. The melody continues. Now, close as your are, the cadence of layered riffs soothes a listless, weary mind.
He begins with a deep inhale. His words match the smooth, slow tempo of his guitar.
“A sun soaked desert lies beyond the horizon. A place of lost souls and shallow graves.” He strums a chord that carries with it a heavy burden. Deep, full, and dark. “Where the sky bears the mark of the End Times, where the lost wander in search of hope beyond the next well. Those that stay too long go only to die. To enter the desert is to never return.”
The music ceases. Weighted air catches in your throat.
“What then happens to those that find their way back from the depths?"